One month ago, the Wall Street Journal editorial board complained that President Barack Obama had ruined the economy. As evidence, they cited the decline in the Dow Jones Industrial Average, which closed at 6763 on March 2.
"The dismaying message here is that President Obama's policies have become part of the economy's problem," the Journal concluded, as it blamed Obama for the Dow's overall decline of 25 percent in two months. The Journal also attacked Obama's proposed budget. "The market has notably plunged since Mr. Obama introduced his budget last week, and that should be no surprise," the editors wrote.
But today the news was different. After the Financial Accounting Standards Board revised the rules on "mark to market" accounting this morning, the Dow climbed over 8000, slightly higher than its close at 7949 on Inauguration Day. And this market rally comes on a day with bad economic news on employment.
Will The Journal Apologize?
So what will the Journal say now that the stock market has "rebounded"? Does this mean the market now loves Obama's policies? Will the conservative editorial board credit Obama for the rebound as it blamed him for the decline? And more importantly, will the Journal now apologize to the president?
An apology may be too much to expect, but if nothing else, the Journal should at least acknowledge that presidents should not be judged by short-term swings in the stock market.
Of course The Wall Street Journal wasn't alone in pinning the decline of the DOW on President Obama. I don't expect the Journal or any of the outlets who have attempted to blame the President for the DOW to offer apologies. That would require an acknowledgment that their reporting on the issue has been absolutely, 100 percent, certifiably stupid.
Discussing a column by Karl Rove, Brian Kilmeade baselessly claimed that "[s]ixty-six percent of you are against the stimulus bill." In fact, Rove noted in his column that according to a CNN poll, 66 percent of Americans are opposed to a second stimulus bill -- the poll showed majority support for the bill enacted in February.
A Wall Street Journal article about Tim Geithner and his aides' involvement in decisions about AIG's bonus payments did not note that it was the Bush administration that negotiated a November 2008 stock purchase agreement with AIG through which the Bush Treasury Department injected $40 billion into the company without requiring that the bonus contracts be nullified.
Media Matters today launched Financial Media Matters (www.FinancialMediaMatters.org) a website dedicated to holding accountable those who report on the financial and business industry as well as those who report on labor, economic, and other fiscal matters. The new website will focus extensively on ensuring that outlets such as CNBC, Fox Business Network, and The Wall Street Journal are held accountable.
"As people across the country struggle with losing their jobs, losing their homes, and losing their nest eggs, Americans are depending on the media -- especially the financial media -- for answers," said Eric Burns, President of Media Matters. He added, "We are launching Financial Media Matters because the public deserves accurate and honest reporting on what is happening and what is being done to fix the economic crisis."
Which reminds me, have you checked out Burns' open letter to CNBC regaring Larry Kudlow potentially using his platform to further his possible candidacy for Senate in Connecticut?
On Fox & Friends Saturday, Karl Rove understated the debt run up by George W. Bush, asserting that there were only "$2.9 trillion in deficits under eight years of Bush." However, the national debt increased by nearly $4.9 trillion during the eight years Bush was in office. Rove's $2.9 trillion figure apparently refers only to "on-budget" deficits, thereby excluding emergency supplemental spending bills used to fund the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, Hurricane Katrina relief, and any other "off-budget" spending.
Recently, the media have highlighted claims that President Obama's "plate" is too "full," suggested he has "bit off more than he can chew," or otherwise given credence to the accusation that the president has loaded his agenda with unrelated items when he should be focusing on the economy. In many instances, the media have simply run teasers to this effect, reinforcing the idea without challenge; in other cases, they have highlighted the accusation, while also providing responses by the Obama administration.
The Wall Street Journal falsely suggested that a secret ballot election is currently required before workers can form a union, asserting that the Employee Free Choice Act "would allow unions to organize workers without a secret ballot, giving employees the power to organize by simply signing cards agreeing to join." In fact, current law already allows a union that shows it has the support of a majority of workers to represent the workers if their employer voluntarily agrees to recognize the union.
Numerous media outlets have devoted significant coverage to the earmarks contained in the pending omnibus appropriations bill, even though, according to most estimates, earmarks constitute less than 2 percent of the total spending in the bill. In many instances, the media have allowed attacks by Sen. John McCain and other opponents of the omnibus bill to dominate their coverage of the legislation -- at times themselves characterizing the bill as laden with "pork."
In a March 6 news article headline, Bloomberg referred to the "Obama Bear Market," and The Wall Street Journal ran an op-ed on the same day with the headline "Obama's Radicalism is Killing the Dow." In fact, the market has been on a decline since October 2007, and, as the Financial Times' Dan McCrum said, "it's the economy which is driving the market down here" and that "what's important is that President Obama doesn't try to address that in the short term. He's quite right that short-term market movements aren't -- shouldn't be driving government policy. What he needs to do is concentrate on fixing the economy, and the market will sort itself out."
The Wall Street Journal reported that Richard Scott, "the former chief executive of HCA Inc," had formed the non-profit organization Conservatives for Patients' Rights as part of a "lobbying campaign to derail or modify" President Obama's health care proposals, but failed to note that Scott resigned from HCA in 1997 amid a federal investigation into the company's Medicare billing, physician recruiting, and home-care practices. HCA eventually pleaded guilty to fraud charges and paid approximately $1.7 billion in fines and penalties.
A Wall Street Journal article reported that as first lady, Hillary Clinton "sparked outrage after embracing Suha Arafat, wife of Palestinian leader Yasser Arafat, shortly after Mrs. Arafat accused Israel of using poison gas against Palestinians." But the article did not note that Clinton reportedly "condemned Mrs. Arafat hours later, after receiving, she said, an official translation of her remarks."
A Wall Street Journal article mischaracterized a section of H.R. 1, stating: "In a staff report describing the bill, the House said treatments found to be less effective and in some cases more expensive 'will no longer be prescribed.' " However, neither the House discussion draft nor the House bill implements federal requirements banning the use of "treatments found to be less effective and in some cases more expensive." In fact, the section of the bill the article referenced establishes a Federal Coordinating Council for Comparative Effectiveness Research and calls for funding to "be used to accelerate the development and dissemination of research assessing the comparative effectiveness of health care treatments and strategies."
Sean Hannity and Rush Limbaugh have repeatedly claimed that President Reagan's tax cuts were responsible for ending the recession in the early 1980s, suggesting that tax cuts, and not government spending, would be the best solution to the end the current recession. However, several economists have stated that while fiscal policy had some impact during that period, "[l]ower interest rates after mid-1982 permitted the recovery to begin," according to a 1983 CBO report. By contrast, a reduction in the federal funds interest rate is not available to the Federal Reserve today because the current rate is essentially zero.
A Wall Street Journal editorial falsely suggested that, unlike President Obama, former President Bush never used "a list of reporters preselected to ask questions" when deciding who to call on at presidential press conferences. In fact, Bush also used such a list, as former White House spokesman Ari Fleischer told reporters in a March 2003 press briefing.
A New York Times essay by Jason DeParle highlighted a resurgence of the use of the word "welfare" among conservatives, this time to attack President Obama's economy recovery plan. Indeed, while economists agree that provisions in the legislation targeting needy people are among the most economically stimulative, Media Matters documents below the pervasiveness of what DeParle called the "weaponiz[ation]" of the "very word, welfare," in the media, particularly, but not exclusively on Fox News, to denounce the stimulus bill.